Tribute will be paid to American submarine veterans and the 54 boats lost in World War II and the Cold War era during a touching ceremony at California State University, Fresno on Friday, March 1.
Two submarine veterans organizations, with assistance from Army and Air Force ROTC students at Fresno State, will dedicate a monument and 54 tulip trees on the grassy Maple Avenue mall starting at 10 a.m.
The memorial will be the first honoring lost submarines and crew members to be located on a university campus, according to Joseph A. Cox, president of Fresno chapter of the United States Submarine Veterans of World War II. The chapter and the Wahoo Base of the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. are sponsoring the event, along with Fresno State.
The ceremony includes “tolling of the boats,” in which the sub’s name, how it was lost and the number of men lost are announced and a bell is tolled. For each, a submarine veteran will salute an American flag posted at the tree and a submariner’s wife will place a flower at the base of the tree, next to a marker listing the name of the boat and date lost.
In addition to the trees, a large stone monument will be dedicated.
State, regional and local dignitaries, the national and state commanders of the submarine veterans groups, plus university President John D. Welty and Associated Students Inc. President Ryan Jacobsen will attend and participate in the ceremony. The Sunnyside High School Band and Choir will perform.
Fifty-two U.S. submarines and 3,505 men were lost in World War II and two other submarines (USS Thresher in 1963, USS Scorpion in 1968) and 228 men since 1945.
Cox said that since its inception in 1900, the U.S. submarine force has played an important role in the defense of the United States. During World War II, the U.S. submarine force sank 201 warships and 1,113 merchant ships of more than 500 tons, accounting for 55 percent of all ships sunk. The submariners also laid mines, hauled ammunition, transported troops, rescued refugees, deployed secret agents, delivered guerrilla leaders and rescued 504 flyers.
The submarine force also had the highest loss of any Navy unit. One of every five men serving on operating submarines lost their lives.
In conjunction with the monument ceremony, the United State Submarine Veterans of World War II will have its state convention at the Airport Holiday Inn Feb. 27 to March 2.
For information, contact Cox at (209) 826-4318.